The Art of Beginning an Interactive Story

Earlier today I was honing the design of my new weblog, The Right Conversation. I inserted a brief definition of conversational media at the top of the right-hand sidebar there, since most people currently are unfamiliar with the term.

Here’s that definition, at least so far:

“Conversational media is when we publicly converse with a writer/speaker and each other. This happens through media such as weblogs, online forums, e-mail discussion lists, wikis, podcasts, social software, call-in shows, and more.”

When I started thinking about what I wanted this definition to achieve, it occured to me that I wanted to express the concept in a way that could immediately engage the listener or reader. That is, I wanted this to be the start of a conversation, or perhaps a story – not merely a flat statement.

…Which reminded me about some things I’d read a few months ago about interactive storytelling

(Read the full article at The Right Conversation…)

Rethinking Releases: Who\’s Your Audience?

(UPDATE JAN 16: I published a followup article to this posting…)

Last summer I caused a bit of a stir when I published “Let’s Put Press Releases Out of Their Misery.” The basic point of that article was that the standard press release format is generally stodgy and lacks credibility even when well written. It’s an awkward fit for the true needs of journalists, and an extraordinarily poor fit for most other audiences.

So I encouraged PR professionals and the companies who hire them to think creatively about other approaches to publishing their own news, directly to their target audiences, in formats other than the standard press release.

A lot of people, especially longtime PR pros, disagreed vehemently. I understand their views, and I respect them. However, I stand by what I said at that time: I still think the press release format has outlived its limited usefulness, so organizations would do well to stop clinging to it.

However, since last summer I’ve gained some new insight into press releases that I’d like to share…

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Conversational Agoraphobia: What\’s Holding Business Blogs Back?

In a recent private conversation, a well-known blogger and I were discussing the problems that can arise when the people in charge of a business blog are too focused on maintaining a sense of total control.

My colleague expressed a Zen-like principle. To paraphrase, his point was: “Credibility comes by releasing control over the conversation, because you gain credibility when you listen, and when you speak authentically.”

This, of course, runs completely opposite to prevailing corporate culture which often mistakes “credibility” for authority or power.

The problem is, if you significantly control or constrain a public conversation (beyond filtering out spammers, of course), you’re demonstrating power and you may even gain a certain amount of authority. However, you’ll only lose credibility in the process…

(Read the full article at The Right Conversation…)

Right Conversation: Recent Articles

I promise, I will be posting more to Contentious… but in the last week I’ve been surprised and pleased by how well my new weblog on conversational media, The Right Conversation has been taking off. Lots of good discussion happening there!

Here are the latest articles I’ve published over there:

The Del.icio.us Bookmarklet I\’d Like to See

(UPDATE JAN 6: Aha, I found exactly what I want! This Del.icio.us extension for Firefox, from MozDev, does exactly what I want. Managing posts to multiple Del.icio.us accounts is no longer a hassle for me!)

Anyway, for the record, here’s my original posting…


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an avid user of the my personal del.icio.us page of links, but I also post links to a couple of other Del.icio.us accounts that I share with my collaborators on various projects.

Unfortunately, if you use more than one Del.icio.us account, you’ll find that the process of posting becomes more cumbersome. Specifically, the “post to Del.icio.us” link (“bookmarklet“) that you place in your web browser’s toolbar to enable easy social bookmarking only supports one Del.icio.us account at a time.

I would dearly love it if some creative developer would build a Del.icio.us bookmarklet that allows you to first select a Del.icio.us account, and then post your link.

Here’s more information about my current frustrations…

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Calling All Typepad Gurus: Help Needed

(UPDATE JAN 3: I solved this problem, and now have a working comment feed for The Right Conversation…)

Over at my new weblog The Right Conversation I’m trying to get a comment feed up and running. However, I’ve hit a bit of a technical snag, and I could use some help figuring it out.

Unlike this blog, which relies on WordPress, The Right Conversation is a Typepad blog. Typepad is a pretty good, user-friendly blogging service, but like any tool it has its limitations. Unfortunately, Typepad doesn’t currently offer a standard option for creating a comment feed for a blog.

I found what seems to be a pretty good hack to accomplish this task, and I’ve almost got it working. However, I need some help troubleshooting a problem I’m having.

If you know Typepad well, especially the pro-level account features, I’d greatly appreciate it if you could help me troubleshoot.

Read all about it at The Right Conversation

Why I Replaced My Brochure Site with a Blog

One of the reasons I launched my new weblog,”The Right Conversation,” is that I’d quietly grown embarrassed by the static site I’d been using as an online brochure for my professional skills.

My old Gahran.com site had degenerated into a “cobweb” because it was a relative hassle to maintain. I hadn’t updated it in a long time, and it featured some broken links. That’s not good marketing.

Yes, I’ll admit it, I’ve gotten spoiled by the simplicity, speed, and flexibility of blogging tools. But that’s not the only reason why I’ve killed Gahran.com and redirected all the traffic from that domain to my new blog. The thing is, a weblog can serve as both a brochure and a conversation.

Here’s how I’ve done that, in this case…

(Read the full article at The Right Conversation…)

The Trouble with Blog Comments

Weblogs are currently one of the most lively and provocative types of conversational media, all because of one simple feature: Comments. Blogs that allow comments are transformed from mere publishing to a facet of the public conversation.

The problem is, though, that’s right now it’s just not as easy as it should be to follow that part of the conversation. Here’s what I mean…

I see three basic problems with following conversations that occur in blog comments…

(Read the full article on my new blog, The Right Conversation…)